Explore The NRA Universe Of Websites

APPEARS IN News

The Judiciary’s Role in Fundamental Transformation

Monday, December 1, 2014

The Judiciary’s Role in Fundamental Transformation

On Nov. 21, 2013, on a near party-line vote, the Democratic-controlled United States Senate eliminated the possibility of a filibuster on confirmation votes for many federal appointments. The new rule allows nominations for most executive positions and all lower court federal judgeships to move forward in the Senate with a simple majority vote rather than the 60 votes needed to end a filibustered nomination. Although he opposed an identical proposal to change the Senate rules in 2005, President Obama was quick to take advantage of the new rule, now that it could be used to his benefit. In a little more than a year since this rule change, its effect on the federal judiciary has been significant. Nine of the 13 federal courts of appeal now have a majority of judges who were appointed by anti-gun presidents.

While a president’s party affiliation is not necessarily determinative of how his judicial appointees will decide cases, Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama were behind all the Democrat appointments of currently active federal judges. These presidents are no friends of the Second Amendment, and Clinton and Obama in particular adamantly pursue gun control. To assume this agenda wouldn’t influence their judicial appointments is dangerously naïve.

Many gun owners understand the importance of appointing Supreme Court justices who will faithfully interpret the Constitution, but the importance of lower court appointments, especially to the federal circuit courts of appeal, is often overlooked. Because of the sheer number of federal cases, lower court decisions often set the tone of constitutional debates and establish the rules under which people live for years. Lower federal courts have decided cases on important issues from whether the right to bear arms applies outside the home to the scope of protections provided by federal interstate transportation of firearm laws. The total list of gun-law issues currently pending before lower courts is too long to list here, but these examples illustrate the importance of keeping anti-gun partisans off the bench.

The Supreme Court itself illustrates how a president’s viewpoint can resonate through his judicial picks. In 2010, Justice Sonia Sotomayor joined the dissent in the landmark McDonald case, arguing that there is no constitutional right to own a firearm. And earlier this year, Justice Elena Kagan wrote an opinion affirming the conviction of a former police officer for buying a firearm for his uncle, even though both men successfully passed background checks before receiving the firearm. Opinions such as these from the high court only serve to embolden anti-gun judges throughout the federal judiciary.

Federal judges often serve as a legacy for the presidents who appoint them and the senators who confirm them. A federal judgeship is essentially an appointment for life, subject only to impeachment by Congress. Judges often remain on the bench for decades after the presidents who appointed them have left office. As an example of how long this can be, several judges who were appointed by President Kennedy remain in the federal judiciary on senior status (i.e., in a semi-retired role). These judges illustrate that it’s entirely possible for a president to have an impact on the legal landscape for more than a half-century.

As Sen. Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., told the New York Times earlier this year, the filling of judicial vacancies “will affect America for a generation, long after the internecine battles on legislative issues are forgotten.” One of those “internecine battles” that Schumer was likely referring to was his failed attempt to pass a number of expansive gun control measures out of the Senate last year. He clearly sees the recent spike in appointments—thanks largely to the elimination of the filibuster he supported—as a backdoor opportunity to shape our nation’s gun laws in a way that he has been unable to accomplish through legislation. Anti-gun Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., went even further, commenting on “the need to have people there that are of an ideological like mind.”

The midterm elections have now been decided, but the struggle for freedom continues. The appointment of judges can, as much as anything, contribute to President Obama’s stated goal of “fundamentally transforming the United States of America.”  This is yet another reason gun owners must stay informed, alert and involved. Now, more than ever, your NRA is here to help you understand where the battle for freedom will be joined.

IN THIS ARTICLE
Chris W. Cox
Chris W. Cox

BY Chris W. Cox

NRA-ILA Executive Director

Follow This Contributor

Chris W. Cox has served as the executive director of the Institute for Legislative Action, the political and lobbying arm of NRA, since 2002. As NRA’s principal political strategist, Cox oversees eight NRA-ILA divisions: Federal Affairs; State & Local Affairs; Public Affairs; Grassroots; Finance; Research & Information; Conservation, Wildlife & Natural Resources; and Office of Legislative Counsel. Cox also serves as chairman of NRA’s Political Victory Fund (NRA-PVF), the Association’s political action committee; president of the NRA Freedom Action Foundation (NRA-FAF), which focuses on non-partisan voter registration and citizen education; and chairman of NRA Country, an effort to bring country music artists together with NRA members in support of our Second Amendment freedoms and hunting heritage.

TRENDING NOW
Turning a Right into a Privilege: HR 1112 Gives Feds Unfettered Power to Block Gun Sales

News  

Friday, February 15, 2019

Turning a Right into a Privilege: HR 1112 Gives Feds Unfettered Power to Block Gun Sales

H.R. 8, which would criminalize the private transfer of firearms, has received significant attention from the gun rights community. However, H.R. 1112, which purportedly targets the inappropriately-named “Charleston loophole,” is just as insidious an attack ...

Washington: Hearing for Bill to Expand Gun Seizures Without Due Process

Monday, February 18, 2019

Washington: Hearing for Bill to Expand Gun Seizures Without Due Process

On February 19th, the Washington state Senate Committee on Law & Justice will be holding an executive session on Senate Bill 5745 to expand the circumstances under which Second Amendment rights may be revoked without ...

H.R. 8 Markup: Liberal Democrats Markup Gun Control Legislation

News  

Friday, February 15, 2019

H.R. 8 Markup: Liberal Democrats Markup Gun Control Legislation

The Nancy Pelosi Speaker Era 2.0 continued on Wednesday, Feb. 13, with a markup of H.R 8, the “universal” background checks bill, in the House Judiciary Committee. Following on the heels of last week’s Judiciary Committee hearing, the same committee held a markup on ...

Texas: Setting the Record Straight On "Red Flag" Legislation

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Texas: Setting the Record Straight On "Red Flag" Legislation

Over the holiday weekend, a conservative "taxpayer watchdog" group sent out an email to its contact list which gave the impression that NRA-ILA supports "red flag" legislation in Texas.  One wonders what the organization hoped to accomplish by confusing and attempting to divide ...

Another Study Blames Guns, Excludes Reality

News  

Friday, February 15, 2019

Another Study Blames Guns, Excludes Reality

A study published in Preventative Medicine by Yu Lu and Jeff R. Temple concludes that “the majority of mental health symptoms examined were not related to gun violence. Instead, access to firearms was the primary culprit.”

California: City of Los Angeles Discriminates Against NRA Supporters

Friday, February 15, 2019

California: City of Los Angeles Discriminates Against NRA Supporters

This week, the City Council Members of Los Angeles showed their extreme distain of the Second Amendment, the NRA and our supporters.  On February 12, the City Council held the first reading of a proposed ordinance that ...

Polls: No Lasting Support for Gun Control One Year After Parkland

News  

Friday, February 15, 2019

Polls: No Lasting Support for Gun Control One Year After Parkland

Thursday marked the one year anniversary of the terrible crimes at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL. It was a somber occasion, but some media outlets couldn’t contain their glee this week that ...

Maryland: 2019 Legislative Session Begins with a Slew of Anti-Gun Bills Introduced

Thursday, February 7, 2019

Maryland: 2019 Legislative Session Begins with a Slew of Anti-Gun Bills Introduced

With the 2019 Maryland Legislative Session underway, gun control groups have made the General Assembly a target for their anti-gun agenda. 

Ohio: Legislative Fix Introduced to Correct Drafting Error

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Ohio: Legislative Fix Introduced to Correct Drafting Error

The Senate Government Oversight and Reform Committee could soon consider Senate Bill 53. 

South Dakota: Senate to Vote on Enhanced Preemption Legislation Tomorrow

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

South Dakota: Senate to Vote on Enhanced Preemption Legislation Tomorrow

Today, the Senate State Affairs Committee passed Enhanced Preemption Legislation, House Bill 1056, by an 8 to 1 vote.

MORE TRENDING +
LESS TRENDING -

More Like This From Around The NRA

NRA ILA

Established in 1975, the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) is the "lobbying" arm of the National Rifle Association of America. ILA is responsible for preserving the right of all law-abiding individuals in the legislative, political, and legal arenas, to purchase, possess and use firearms for legitimate purposes as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.